“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear (reverence) God, and keep His commandments; for this is the whole [duty of] man.”Ecclesiastes 12:13
In these troubled times we sometimes need to take a ‘grittily realistic’ look at life. Solomon walks us through a spiritual analysis of this life in its own terms. He opens the book reflecting on all the ‘cycles’ that we take for granted daily:
- The rising and setting of the sun,
- The tides,
- The water cycle,
- The weather, etc.
In so doing, he makes us painfully aware that we as humans do not ‘cycle’—we get just one passage across the stage of life on which we are but players (Shakespeare’s ‘as you like it’). In fragile times like these, Solomon calls us to take stock of the meaning of life.
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter
At the conclusion of Ecclesiastes, Solomon, endowed with wisdom from God, puts before us a picture of aging and death. There’s a funeral in the village and the procession passes through the streets. All is silent and people bow their heads, lining the streets as the cortege passes and man goes to his long home. The only sound to be heard is the chirruping of the crickets and the song of the birds for whom the solemnity of the occasion is irrelevant. Again, just as with the earth’s ‘cycles’ in chapter 1, nature mocks our mortality.
What is the appropriate reaction, then, to this analysis of our vain lives that Solomon describes?
“Reverence God, and keep His commandments; for this is the whole man,” shouts The Preacher, to all those who pause and reflect.